• ITVI.USA
    12,475.330
    -74.540
    -0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.863
    0.005
    0.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    8.610
    0.210
    2.5%
  • OTVI.USA
    12,525.630
    -80.810
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.780
    -0.050
    -1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.390
    -0.270
    -10.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.800
    -0.040
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.160
    -0.030
    -1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.990
    -0.020
    -1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.880
    -0.060
    -2%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    6.000
    5%
  • ITVI.USA
    12,475.330
    -74.540
    -0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.863
    0.005
    0.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    8.610
    0.210
    2.5%
  • OTVI.USA
    12,525.630
    -80.810
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.780
    -0.050
    -1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.390
    -0.270
    -10.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.800
    -0.040
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.160
    -0.030
    -1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.990
    -0.020
    -1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.880
    -0.060
    -2%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    6.000
    5%
AskWavesInsightsNewsTop StoriesWeather and Critical Events

Tips for truckers: How to weather a snow squall

AskWaves explores how drivers can navigate these quick, intense storms

Snow squalls in the Northeast last weekend led to traffic accidents involving 18-wheelers, as well as a multihour shutdown of Interstate 81 in eastern Pennsylvania. Snow squalls are brief but intense bursts of heavy snow, strong winds and whiteout conditions that often reduce visibility at the drop of a hat. They can also cause roads to become icy. These are a few quick safety tips for truckers to follow when encountering these storms.


Related: Truckers honored as Highway Angels for feeding snowbound drivers


Warnings

The National Weather Service issues warnings for snow squalls “where the highest threat of rapidly changing visibilities are the most likely to occur.”

Because these storms usually develop quickly, it’s important for truckers to have at least one reliable weather app installed on each of their mobile devices. The warnings trigger alerts on the apps, which should be set to “location” or “GPS” mode. This ensures that the apps “follow” drivers, posting the alerts no matter where drivers happen to be along their routes.

What to do during a warning

If a snow squall warning is issued, the NWS urges drivers who are parked to wait until the storm clears before getting back on the road. Truckers who are driving when the warning pops up should try to exit the road as carefully and as soon as possible. Find the nearest safe place to park until the storm fades.

When exiting isn’t an option

If drivers are unable to exit during a snow squall warning, they should slow down gradually. Turning on headlights and hazard lights makes trucks and trailers as visible as possible to other motorists. Stay in one lane, increase following distance and avoid slamming the brakes.


Related: Chaining up: 4 pro tips for truckers


Before hitting the road, truckers should always check with state transportation and highway patrol departments regarding possible commercial vehicle restrictions. Sometimes certain highways are off limits to big rigs for periods of time when extreme winter storms are forecast.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.